You are sitting in front of the laptop ready to write the story that has been circling in your head for years. It’s plotted. The characters are well defined with qualities readers will love and hate. But your fingers freeze. How do you start?
It’s something every writer struggles with. The first sentence contains the most important words you’ll write in the story. The sentence has to captivate the reader and pique their interest to read on.
One of my favorite books does it well. The first sentence in ‘Paradise’, by Toni Morrison catapults you into the story without any preamble. “They shoot the white girl first.” What a great sentence.
Much has been written about first sentences and I’ve read a lot of them before writing this blog entry. State a principle, a fact laced with importance, or introduce an internal voice. Most authorities discourage writing about fluff like the weather. But in '1984' by George Orwell, the first half of his first sentence is something you would read off of weatherchannel.com. ‘It was a bright cold day in April..." However, it’s the second half of the sentence that is riveting. "...and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ A clock striking thirteen. Right away the reader knows something is off.
So when writing your first sentence, take the time and think. Does it draw the reader in and make them wonder what's going to happen next.